Job Family: Construction, Building, and Extraction Heavy Equipment Operators
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard  | National Guard

Photo 1: Digger breaks ground for construction. Photo 2:
Man operates crane.

Short Description
Each year the military completes hundreds of construction projects. Tons of earth and building materials must be moved to build airfields, roads, dams, and buildings. Heavy equipment operators use bulldozers, cranes, graders, and other heavy equipment in military construction.


What They Do
Heavy equipment operators in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Drive bulldozers, roadgraders, and other heavy equipment to cut and level earth for runways and roadbeds
  • Lift and move steel and other heavy building materials using winches, cranes, and hoists
  • Dig holes and trenches using power shovels
  • Operate mixing plants to make concrete and asphalt
  • Spread asphalt and concrete with paving machines
  • Drill wells using drilling rigs
  • Place and detonate explosives
  • Remove ice and snow from runways, roads, and other areas using scrapers and snow blowers
  • Operate breaching/bridging systems

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include shop mechanics. Helpful attributes include:
  • Interest in operating heavy construction equipment
  • Preference for working outdoors

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction, including practice operating construction equipment. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. Course content typically includes:
  • Operation of different types of construction equipment
  • Maintenance and repair of equipment

Work Environment
Heavy equipment operators work outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. They often sit for long periods and are subject to loud noise and vibrations. They may work indoors while repairing equipment.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian heavy equipment operators work for building contractors, state highway agencies, rock quarries, well drillers, and construction firms. Civilian heavy equipment operators may also be known as operating engineers, heavy equipment operators, well drillers, or riggers.

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